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8 reasons Joe Thomas never misses the Pro Bowl

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1)     *Durability *

Joe Thomas hasn't missed a snap in his career. That's 7,917 straight plays – rain or shine; injuries or insignificant games at the end of the season. Every play matters to Thomas, and this Cal Ripken-esque, Iron Man dedication is one of the biggest reasons why he's so highly revered around the NFL.

2)     *Mental toughness*

Thomas played in a number of different schemes in his time with the Browns and has thrived in every single one of them. While some players resist change, Thomas sees reinvention as growth. He altered his training this past offseason to gain more burst for Cleveland's zone-blocking scheme. And he'll continue to be versatile. That's what makes him special.

3)     *Brute strength*

In terms of pass blocking, Thomas is in a class of his own as arguably the most effective left tackle of his generation. He can scrap, he can maul and he can use his feet to expose bigger defensive linemen's lack of athleticism. 

4)     *Leadership*

Ask left guard Joel Bitonio why he was so successful during his rookie season and, without hesitation, he'll tell you he was just following Thomas' lead. Thomas is an open book to his other linemen, giving them advice on not just opposing defenses, but also life skills like managing finances.

5)     *He doesn't take himself too seriously *

This is a must-read article from ESPN's Pat McManamon about Thomas off of the field. Thomas is a regular in Browns community events, takes great pride in gardening and likes to play harmless pranks on rookies. Mostly, he's a selfless teammate who puts others first. As coach Mike Pettine says: Talent gets you to the league, character keeps you in it. Thomas is a prime example for how character can help a player flourish.

6)     *Preparation*

The NFL grind can become mundane for some players but not Thomas. He enjoys studying opponents in the classroom just as much as he loves leveling them on Sundays. Thomas challenges the rest of the offensive line room to know every little detail about the sport. ''Just stand near them and listen to them to talk,'' Pettine said. ''They're football nerds."

7)     *Performance *

It never deviates. The rare times Thomas is flagged for a penalty or beat on a play, it's so noticeable because it's a once-in-a-blue-moon occurrence.

8)     *Respect  *

Pettine joked the Pro Bowl should be renamed the "Joe Thomas Invitational" for how the Browns' franchise cornerstone frequents the NFL's annual all-star game. Some skill players and other linemen are in and out of the Pro Bowl. Thomas is a permanent fixture, and for good reason. Fans, coaches and players alike recognize his dominance.

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